It’s the story of a guy who drives a truck in a region that could not be more lost. And there you have it for the plot, even if there is in there a detective novel (its loading is not very legal and we end up learning what it leaks), a romance novel (a woman met in a fun fair serves him as at least ephemeral destiny) and an adventure novel (his friend “the journalist” begins by looking for Nazi submarines stranded in Argentina with who knows what treasure while regretting the “decadence” by finding himself comically confronted with a neo-Nazi of today). All this does not prevent it is the solitude that seems to suit the driver best in this infinite landscape where the hours “Appeared to be blocked on the dial by a sticky substance”, where with his girlfriend they will meet “Stuck in a kind of pool of time”, “all he wanted was to live a wandering existence in peace”.
It must be said that, when he asks for information, the dialogues are hardly enriching. “Take the national straight ahead, the day after tomorrow turn left, Monday you turn right and continue to the Atlantic. It’s the only ocean, you can’t get lost. ” Or : “Are you all that stupid around here?” he exploded, deeply offended. “I couldn’t tell you, I’m not from around here,” the man replied, yawning. “ Such is Patagonia route 203, the first novel by 60-year-old Argentinian Eduardo Fernando Varela. he “Lives between Buenos Aires, where he writes screenplays for cinema and television, and Venice, where he sells old cards”, it says on the back cover.
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Who really is Parker, his hero? The woman at the funfair tries to get an idea. “Was it a fugitive, a being fallen from the sky, a parachutist, a distortion of his senses, an apparition, an inexplicable aberration of the human landscape of the plain?” A little of all that, one must believe. He is a man who suddenly wonders what sense it has to continue on this road inhabited by “Men and women prisoners of geography, confined in this corner of the universe”. “For his own salvation, he had to find his way back, but he didn’t quite know where he had left it.” With “the journalist” who does not want to wear the brakes of his car (hence the original stops), they make appointments for which neither the place nor the time are essential and that they manage to hold, places and times being apprehended in a new way in the area. His lover : “There is no lack of time, look at all the time there is here,” she said, indicating the empty landscape with her hand. There are also some strange cannibalistic legends out there that some firmly believe that may not be wrong when a man is released by the alleged cannibals: “- Only heaven knows when we will see human flesh again … – With these chivalrous ways, we are doomed to fast for centuries, sighed the other.” Parker is less convinced: “Stop with this bullshit once and for all!” […] I’m sick of your whims! We’re going to look for gold if you like, but the story of the Indians possessed by the souls of Spanish sailors, I don’t want to hear any more about it! ” he said, just before the final twist, to the journalist who did not stay true to his quest for submarines. “Step into reality, grow up, it’s time!” he adds in an apostrophe that is probably addressed to himself.
In his way, Patagonia route 203 speaks of interior and exterior order and disorder. Parker does not show a great gift for spinning mills. “How could you have lost track of a fun fair?” You don’t lose track of a turtle. ” His home, which is not one, he has been carrying with him since the beginning of the novel. With his personal crane, he is always able to get out of the trailer of his truck “What once had been his home”, to know “A wooden table, chairs, a ragged leather sofa, an old fridge, a floor lamp, a large carpet, a cupboard, a bed with its mattress and a night table with its bedside table”, all that he sets up outdoors in all the lost places where he spends the night, even with his lover. She amazes him by talking about it as a mess. “Disorder ? There could be disorder in a house, in a place with a roof and walls, not in the middle of a plain, where objects had the absolute freedom to be anything, without appearing out of place. “ Parker also has it strangely, this “Absolute freedom to be anything”.
Eduardo Fernando Varela Patagonia route 203 Translated from the Spanish (Argentina) by François Gaudry. Metailie,
358 pp., € 22.50 (ebook: € 14.99).